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Best ear plugs for harpists?

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  • #112364
    Maya
    Participant

    I’ve been sticking cotton wool in my ears for far too long but it just doesn’t cut it. What ear plugs have you found good for protecting your ears while still being able to hear the subtleties of the harp? Do you use different earplugs when rehearsing or performing with other instruments? Recent illness has made my ears quite sensitive so dealing with violins, flute, electronics & percussion is also pretty agonising.

    I don’t want to spend a huge amount of money on custom ones because I know I’d just lose them. The same goes for investing in decent noise canceling headphones; they’d last about 10 minutes before getting destroyed in my bag. However, the standard dirt cheap earplugs from the pharmacy aren’t quite up to the job either.
    Any input would be much appreciated!

    #112365
    Alison
    Participant

    Someone in my local community orchestra in UK has got some musician’s ear plugs I’ll ask her. I have tried ordinary ones myself and they don’t allow you to hear ones own instrument, so that’sself defeating

    #112366
    e-nb
    Participant

    I use “Hearos” – got ’em off Amazon. The do the job fine and aren’t too expensive. They do however, mostly block out the sound of your own instrument, but if you are playing in an environment loud enough to warrant ear plugs, you most likely won’t be able to hear yourself anyway.
    I haven’t tried “Alpine” ear plugs, but they come with different noise absorbent inserts so you can customise them to the level you want. However, they are 3 times the price.
    But anything is better than tinnitus!

    #112367
    kimberly-rowe
    Keymaster

    I know you said you don’t want custom earplugs but I have some and they’re great! They really weren’t all that expensive—maybe $75 or so–I can’t remember. They are from [Westone](http://www.westone.com/) and I got them at my doctor’s office. They are custom molded to your ear and come with different fliters so you can block out all the sound or just some of the sound. They’re very comfortable and I’ve also been able to wear them to sleep in noisy hotels or planes. Coincidently we have an article on hearing and protecting your ears in the latest issue of *Harp Column*. It should be online for subscribers today or tomorrow! Stay tuned!

    #112368
    kreig-kitts
    Member

    I have a pair of attenuator plugs that I got from an audiologist. He took a mold of my ear so they’re custom made and fit extremely well. They’re designed to reduce all frequencies evently so that pitch isn’t distorted and can be purchased in two different amplitudes. I think I got 20db and the other option was 40db, which is more popular with those who work around heavily amplified music. I do notice that my own voice sounds distorted, though we usually hear it differently from how it sounds anyway, so I guess the natural sound of our own voice is arleady distorted. They were a little pricey but not prohibitive and they last a long time. I think I paid about $200 US.

    At a flute event a couple of years ago an audiologist’s office also had some on display that are designed to go into any ear but still preserve the sound quite well while protecting the hearing. Many of the Alpine should be similar.

    #112369
    Tacye
    Participant

    I have a pair from a travel shop – not the foam ones, but the sort that look like rubber mushrooms. Sometimes I only wear one in my left ear if I really want to hear me!

    #112370
    kimberly-rowe
    Keymaster

    The article about hearing from our March/April 2013 issue is now up! http://www.harpcolumn.com/issues/4/articles/16

    (The rest of the issue is coming soon!)

    #112371
    Maya
    Participant

    Thanks for all your suggestions. I have used Hearos in the past as a vocalist when rehearsing with a very loud rock band in small spaces. In that case everything just needed to be muffled so we didn’t leave with ringing ears but clarity was definitely lacking. Since I’ve been ill, I find solo acoustic harp practice at home loud enough to warrant ear plugs & for that I need to hear details. The Alpine ones seem promising though.

    On the subject Kreig brought up of your own voice sounding distorted, I probably should have mentioned I sing & play simultaneously (often amplified with drums & electronics) and with all ear plugs I’ve used in the past there’s been the problem of my voice booming around inside my head, making it incredibly difficult to judge volume. To the people who are happy with their ear plugs, how does your own voice sound? Does it boom around? Can you hear it at all?

    #112372
    kreig-kitts
    Member

    My own voices sounds a bit like I’m underwater, and it sounds fairly loud in relation to other things. I don’t know if the earplugs interfere with the sound conduction through which we hear much of our own voices. You might experiment with using one of your amps as a monitor to hear your own voice while using plugs, and see if it helps to have it coming at you from another direction.

    #112373
    Maya
    Participant

    That’s occlution that occurs when you block off the ear canal, which is the booming I was talking about, the vibrations of the cartilage inside the head can’t escape so it echoes around. I know this can be avoided if ear plugs go deep enough or are vented so your own voice isn’t vibrating the cartilage but instead passes through/is absorbed by the ear plug. With the earplugs I’ve tried in the past it’s pretty headache inducing but milder occlution I could probably deal with if they functioned well in other aspects.

    External monitoring does help to an extent but I’ve blown all but one amp by singing through them so I think until I can afford a decent pa or in ear monitoring, I’ll just search for ear plugs that are least objectionable.

    #112374
    M Rodgers
    Spectator

    I recommend Michael Santucci at Sensaphonics in Chicago. He does most of the in ear monitors for the rock industry and also the custom ear molds. Kreig is about right with the price. He does a full spectrum hearing test before he takes the molds. If you aren’t near Chicago, he has satellite locations that can take the molds and send them in. Worth every penny. I thought I would lose mine but I have managed to take care of them.

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